DonnieAlan / Donnie Alan
One of the hardest things to get right in a mix, in my opinion, is reverb. We all like how adding reverb brings tracks alive, but there's a tendency to overdo it, especially on drums and vocals. One of my biggest complaints with many of the VI's out there, even the top end ones like Dune 3, Serum, or even Omnisphere, is how they seem to wash the patches in reverb on the factory patches, or the 3rd party patch libraries. As I researched more about reverb and tried different ways, I came across this little technique which I find can make reverb shine without washing over the track. The technique is to use a side chain compression on the reverb. The video below will explain it pretty well. The concept is to put a compressor on the reverb aux track before the reverb and then send a side chain of the audio to the compressor before it hits the reverb. What this does is allow more of the dry signal through without washing it with reverb, but then quickly adding the reverb when the audio drops off, providing a nice reverb tail which you can set to taste with whatever type reverb fits the mix. To make things even better, adding a parametric EQ after the reverb on the aux track will give you more control over how the reverb itself sounds..which frequencies shine more in the verb and so forth. I find I prefer doing that instead of using the EQ controls that are on the reverb plugins. Most of the time I find that those don't really give me the fine control over the reverb sound as well as using one of my favorite para EQs. Its also interesting to experiment with putting the sidechain compression BEFORE versus AFTER the Reverb plugin. It does change the character of how the reverb will sound. Before the verb, and you're compressing the dry signal. After, you're compressing the fully reverbed signal. Is one "better" than the other? Depends on the mix, the song, and what you want. As a friend of mine whose a pro mixer in Nashville likes to say, "If it sounds good, it IS good!" And this technique will work for delay effects as well. And it works on any audio, not just vocals. Experiment and have fun!
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